The 15 Best Sources for Outfitting Your Small Space

The 15 Best Sources for Outfitting Your Small Space

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Furnishing a shoebox of an apartment or a tiny home can be quite the challenge, especially if custom goods are beyond your budget. But it is possible to be strategic about how you source items, from carefully choosing the retailers you shop at to browsing sections like the “back to college” department, for example, where you might never have thought to look. And of course, double-duty items, smart storage pieces, and clever repurposing opportunities are always your small space’s best friends.

No matter your style or budget, there’s a small-space-friendly store out there for you. Add these 15 designer-approved sources to your bookmark list, and happy shopping!

It’s always good to have a plan when it comes to shopping at IKEA since this Swedish megastore is constantly introducing new products and has lots of inventory. So what do pro designers recommend? “Their open-back shelving is super flexible and can go in a ton of different types of rooms — playrooms, libraries, bedrooms,” says designer Jennifer Jean Morris of JMorris Design. “I added some interior shelves to an entry, and it became a great shoe depot, and with some bins, I can grab gloves or sunscreens for on-the-go.”

In fact, IKEA’s KALLAX series is also a favorite of designer Janet Lorusso, principal and owner of JRL Interiors. “This is my favorite piece for small spaces because IKEA also sells a variety of bins that fit the cubbies, as well as drawers and doors, so you can configure it to be covered or open storage specifically for whatever you need,” says Lorusso. “It can function as a cabinet, a drawer, a display, or a bookshelf and comes in a variety of configurations that can be used vertically or horizontally.”

Lorusso is also a fan of the new HEMNES daybed. “It’s a sofa by day and a bed by night as well as a dresser because of the storage space underneath,” she says. Talk about a triple threat! These kinds of multitaskers are the kinds of pieces you should invest in to maximize your square footage.

When you want more of a choice in patterns and colors, or maybe something a little trendier than IKEA, give West Elm a look. “What I love about West Elm is that they have smaller apartment-sized sofas and smaller chairs in all kinds of colors, styles, and patterns,” says Alice Chiu, principal of Miss Alice Designs. They even have a curated “Small Space Solutions” landing page, so modestly sized abodes are clearly top of mind for their in-house design team.

This one may come as a surprise if you don’t keep up with home news, but Pottery Barn actually launched a dedicated small-space collection, PB Apartment, a few years back, and it’s good, y’all. You’ll find transitional sofas, desks, consoles, beds, and dining tables with petite proportions, plus modular shelving and items with extra built-in storage. A lot of the pieces are in stock and ready to ship, meaning you don’t have to wait weeks for custom-made designs, and many are also part of PB’s “everyday value” pricing structure, so they won’t break the bank.

This NYC-based retailer is the place to go for multifunctional pieces and furniture that transforms — think Murphy beds, sofa beds, and furniture with streamlined silhouettes. Their modular pieces can also accommodate drop-down desks and extra storage compartments. “One room we designed for two brothers with Resource Furniture featured tall storage units with beds above and desks below,” says designer Elizabeth Sanchez Vaughan of In-Site Interior Design. “It was a lot of function for one small room.”

Designer Melanie Morris of Melanie Morris Interiors is another fan of the brand. “Going to Resource Furniture with a client is like taking them to a magic show,” says Morris. “One of their products I absolutely love is their Goliath Glass Console Table that goes from 17 inches in depth to a full-fledged dining table up to 115 inches long.” Magic indeed! Morris is also a fan of their Murphy beds.

Looking for a sofa that’s tiny but doesn’t skimp on style? Check out modern e-tailer APT 2B for a bunch of apartment-sized, made-in-the-USA options. The store stocks lots of different silhouettes, and you can order fabric samples if you want to check out one of their bold colorways in real life before committing. (Don’t worry — beige, gray, and navy are options, too.) APT 2B is also the exclusive upholstery partner of designer Kyle Schuneman, who was named a House Beautiful top 20 new design talent to watch. Did I mention the sofas also come with a lifetime warranty? That’s a lot of mileage, folks.

Over the years, modern furniture emporium CB2 has quietly built up its more modestly sized offerings. They don’t have a small-space collection, per se, but they stock folding tables, wall mount shelves, and cabinet-style wardrobes for those who deal with another small-space tragedy: lack of closets. If you’re looking for clean and compact home solutions, definitely check them out.

When designer Hillary K. Cohen of hCO INTERIORS is working on a spatially challenged room, she loves to visit Calligaris, especially for dining tables. “They have modern pieces that are designed with great proportions and smart touches,” says Cohen. “In our ‘River Residence’ project, we used a round dining table with a marble top that expands when you have more guests.” Not only is the base of the table designed to fit as many chairs as you need, Cohen says the extension pieces for the top are also stored within the table. That’s a true space saver.

Sara Cannon, designer at House Heroes LLC, is all about shopping at chain stores targeted to young folks, like Urban Outfitters and even PB Teen, for scaled-down pieces. “My own home is a 1920s row house, so it’s super narrow and has smaller rooms that are way more compartmentalized than a modern home,” says Cannon. “While I treasure my ‘grown up’ pieces, I have to admit that I scored quite a bit of decor and storage items during back-to-school sales when retailers are targeting college students moving into little apartments or dorms.” Urban Outfitters is great for sofas and beds, but they also offer rolling rack storage solutions, shelving units, side tables, and ottomans from a lot of the same vendors as sister store Anthropologie. On the whole, UO furniture is just a bit smaller and more youthful.

When you’re looking for special storage pieces, make sure Expedition SubSahara is on your list. Founder Sofi Seck stocks beautiful woven baskets in tons of different colors and sizes, with or without lids, so you’ll surely find something that catches your eye and fits in with your design scheme. Many of the styles are great for entryways, bathrooms, and media rooms.

Fans of a more minimalist aesthetic will appreciate this Japanese chain store‘s stylish brand of housewares and storage items. Additionally, many of their pieces have simple, scaled-down silhouettes, particularly in the furniture collection. If you are looking for more compact cooking utensils and closet organization solutions, you can find these kinds of items here, too.

If you have a bigger budget, Made Goods is an amazing resource. “Small-sized heaven — they often have petite sizes for bedside and console tables that can be nimble,” says Jennifer Jean Morris. Translation: Their little pieces can really go anywhere in the house and (literally) fit in. The craftsmanship is on point, too. “Their quality and finishes are so refined, so you really don’t feel like you are giving up anything,” adds Morris.

Don’t let the name fool you — since 1969, this New York-based store has been a go-to for far more than just cabinetry. You can find relatively affordable custom wood furniture of all sorts, including storage beds, wall units, radiator covers, and dining tables. Freestanding and built-in styles run the design gamut, from Early American and Art Deco to Shaker and mid-century modern. Many pieces are backed by a lifetime warranty, and you can get a custom job quote for free. Check out their clearance and floor sample section for ready-to-ship items at even deeper discounts.

Think of the newish direct-to-customer brand Open Spaces as a tightly curated, cooler younger cousin to The Container Store. Their current collection includes different kinds of organizing accessories, from bins and baskets to racks and dividers. The overall look and feel is clean and modern, thanks to a muted palette of light woods, gray felts, and powder-coated steel.

Another great Japanese minimalist brand is Yamazaki, which specializes in small-space-friendly storage and decor pieces for every room of the home — particularly the kitchen, bathroom, and entryway. If you love quiet wood pieces that mix and mingle with black and white, then this is a site fo you to shop, for sure. Keep in mind that popular sites like Amazon, Urban Outfitters, and West Elm also stock Yamazaki, so it’s always a good idea to compare costs to snag the absolute best prices.

If simple, Scandinavian-style interiors speak to you, IKEA is not your only option, particularly when it comes to shelving. In 1960, German designer Dieter Rams introduced his 606 Universal Shelving System, and this modular design is still a small-space dweller’s dream. Fill out this questionnaire, upload a photo of your room, add dimensions, and specify your budget. Then Vitsoe (606’s exclusive manufacturer) will come up with a configuration that’s best suited for you and your space (with no obligation to buy). The best part? You can keep adding to the unit and take the entire thing with you if you ever move.

Sarah M. Vazquez also contributed to reporting. 

Danielle Blundell

Home Director

Danielle Blundell is a New York-based writer and editor that covers interiors, decorating and organizing. She loves home design, heels and hockey (not necessarily in that order).

This Asheville Apartment Has Big Apple Energy

This Asheville Apartment Has Big Apple Energy

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Sometimes the fourth time really is the charm. That was the case for one lifelong New York City couple, who at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic found themselves as empty nesters yet still somewhat cramped in their Manhattan duplex and ready to retire down south. The only problem? None of the local designers really “got” their style once they decamped and downsized. So they enlisted architect Daniel Ian Smith, principal and lead interior designer of Village West Design, who they had worked with on three prior projects, to turn their large, upper floor apartment into their dream destination.

Smith’s task was a tall one, as the apartment had fantastic views of Asheville’s historic landmarks and great bones but felt “cookie cutter” and “colorless” in the way that newer construction sometimes can. That wasn’t his vibrant, arts-and-culture loving clients at all. The space would need a serious dose of personality, as the clients planned on sourcing almost all new furniture and lighting that would let their prized art collection truly shine. Smith got to work right away, honing in on a crisp, clean decorating scheme anchored by soothing shades of blues and grays, handsome woods, and whimsical pops of warm, bright colors like yellow, red, and orange — often provided by the couples’ blue chip artwork.

For Smith, color is more than just paint on the walls, and his subtle but high-impact approach with this element of design is on display at all turns in the apartment. In the open-plan living room and dining area, whisper-light cream walls put the focus on the Asheville cityscape right outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, while a dark blue sectional grounds some of that airiness with its intensity. In a separate sitting area, another blue sofa plays off light grayish walls, both surfaces energized by the multicolored geometric rug underfoot and pops of red in a bookshelf, domed lamp, and pillowscape.

In some rooms, such as the primary bedroom and bathroom as shown above, these color relationships are inverted, with blues on the walls and lighter hues woven throughout as accents. Paired with wood furniture and hits of texture — like the grasscloth wallpapered focal wall behind the bed, for example, or even the navy tiled backsplash in the kitchen (shown below) — the space feels cozy, layered, and welcoming even though it’s on the more minimalist side.

Mellow yellow just might be the sleeper hit hue of the space — present in a few unexpected spots, from the guest bedroom walls to the second bathroom, where it provides the base color for a fun, geometric wall mural that strikes a retro note stylistically. In fact, the whole apartment has a bit of a contemporary meets mid-century modern vibe, thanks to key pieces from brands like BluDot, Room & Board, CB2, and West Elm, among others.

Smith also worked to ensure the couples’ art would be spotlighted. In fact, finding the right pieces for his clients, matching them with complementary frames, and placing them in the home properly is one of the designer’s favorite decorating challenges. For this particular project, he even sourced a special Marc Chagall work that the wife of his client couple wanted to surprise her husband with as a “thank you” for finally agreeing to settle down south. Framed by local purveyor, Blackbird, the piece now hangs above a console table and brightens up a dark bare wall. Smith also surveyed the local art scene and helped his clients make a few key Asheville acquisitions, including pieces by potter-glass blower husband-and-wife duo Courtney Martin and John Geci, whose shared studio Smith visited in person after touring it virtually from his California office. 

Of course, considering the scope and timing of this project, things exactly didn’t go off without a hitch. “Lead times started to creep up as we were sourcing, and we were working with a fixed deadline — the homeowners had already agreed to vacate their NYC apartment by a certain date, and as long-time repeat clients, the pressure was on to have everything ready for them when they arrived,” says Smith. “There were so many false starts with various vendors, an abrupt cancellation from the movers whose crew all seemed to contract COVID at the same time, and so many cancelled flights and postponed trips.”

To help offset some of the chaos, Smith brought on a local concierge to serve as the group’s eyes and ears on the ground in Asheville as the home took shape. She was able to offer local suggestions and pivots when logistical issues arose, mainly due to supply chain issues.

Against all odds, the project took exactly twelve months, from the homeowners’ first email inquiry on working together to the big (tears of joy-inducing!) HGTV-like reveal of the space. “The homeowners have texted, called, and emailed with gratitude so many times and seemingly love everything we created,” says Smith. What could be a better testament of a job well done than that?

Danielle Blundell

Home Editor

Danielle Blundell is AT’s Home Director and covers decorating and design. She loves homes, heels, the history of art, and hockey—but not necessarily always in that order.

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This Investment Educator’s Brooklyn Rental Is Compact, Colorful, and Cool

This Investment Educator’s Brooklyn Rental Is Compact, Colorful, and Cool

Erin Derby

Photographer

Originally from California, but turned New Yorker since 2000, I’ve been shooting my entire life and am still inspired and excited about it. Lately I have been putting my energies into my Fine Art, which can be seen on my website and on Saatchi Art. Being infatuated with interior design doesn’t hurt either, which mixes well with my love of photographing interiors.

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This Vintage Seller’s New Orleans Home Is Filled With Stunning Secondhand Finds

This Vintage Seller’s New Orleans Home Is Filled With Stunning Secondhand Finds

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Name: Carly Sioux, with Maine Coon Cat, Winston
Location: Lower Garden District — New Orleans, Louisiana
Size: 1600 square feet
Type of Home: Craftsman Style Bungalow
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

I currently live in a Craftsman Style Bungalow home located in the heart of the Lower Garden District. My home was built in 1909 and was designed by renowned New Orleans Architect Thomas Sully, who also designed The Columns Hotel. What I love so much about this space are the quintessential traits of the Craftsman style. My home features a large covered front porch, abundant natural light, fireplaces throughout, a beautiful stained glass window in my entryway, built-in bookshelves and just great all around storage. If you live in New Orleans, you know exactly what kind of luxury I’m talking about. There are also these great little nooks where you can create little moments and vignettes of play. My front parlor also has these large red pocket doors that allow me to partition the space. I can either keep it open and fluid or I can close the doors and create a little intimate moment that feels secure and snug.

I am the owner and founder of NO ERA Design and specialize in vintage interiors; I have an Instagram shop, @shop_noera. I also do interior styling, staging, sourcing, design, all with a focus on vintage interiors. I use this space as my home studio for all my product photography and design inspiration.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Is always evolving. Previously, I coined the term “Regency Goth” to describe my aesthetic. This current space however, has me moving into a fresh new direction. At the moment I am mostly inspired by the 1970s and early 1980s aesthetic of Milan, Italy, and New York City. No matter what direction inspiration takes me, mirrors, plants, and original art are always the unifying elements that tie in all of my work.

Inspiration: My background is in arts, both as a practicing artist and my degree is in Arts Administration. So I approach interiors more so with the mindset of an artist rather than a traditional designer. I prefer the uniqueness and warmth of collective objects rather than achieving perfection through custom design and contemporary furnishings. Art, cinema, and music are the biggest influences that guide my creative process and I think a lot of that comes through on my Instagram Reels.

Favorite Element: Mirrors and plants. Lots of them and everywhere.

Biggest Challenge: Adapting to white walls. With all the fire mantels, wainscoting, and built-ins, the walls needed to stay white. I’ve always preferred darker, moodier palettes but I’ve really been embracing the crisp, freshness of white walls and all the natural light that radiates from them.

Proudest DIY: I shoot all of my own interior design photographs, which is no cakewalk. I have a background in darkroom photography, as well as I taught myself video and video editing. It’s a real competitive edge in this industry. I absolutely love making Instagram Reels and so many people are missing out on this huge opportunity to do something really interesting and creative with this technology.

Biggest Indulgence: The space itself I would say is my biggest indulgence. When the pandemic hit, I decided to invest more into the space I live in, since so much time is being spent here. It’s really been worth the investment.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I use my home as my photography studio. Lifestyle photographs are essential in this business so that people can imagine how some of these pieces can and will work in their homes or lifestyles. I often stage furniture and decor vignettes to feature on my social media as well as my online shop.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Mirrors. They just work for all spaces large and small. They open up space, reflect light, and just double whatever you put in front of them. Mirrors are magic.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Incandescent bulbs. Nothing kills a vibe faster than LED lighting.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Don’t follow trends. Spend some time to find out what it is you like and what works for you and your particular lifestyle. Less is more, so slowly collect and invest in pieces you love instead of just filling up space.

Practically everything in my home has been purchased through thrifting and estate sales. I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time developing relationships with dealers and wholesalers who I source from on the regular. Some of my more notable pieces featured in these photographs are as follows:

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

8 Interior Design Options for Every Budget and Level of Comfort

8 Interior Design Options for Every Budget and Level of Comfort

Whether you’re looking to add a couple of chic elements to your first apartment or want to go all in, there’s no shame in asking for some help. In fact, you can find tons of resources spanning every budget and required design skill level to help you make your interior dreams come true. From free online offerings to custom consultations, here are eight design resources you’re going to love.

If you’re just hoping for a little help with paint colors, startup Clare’s “Color Genius” program will make some recommendations based on your room’s size, light, existing furniture, and the look and feel you’re going for.

Cost: Free, plus optional add-ons

Without purchasing a single thing, you can use Room Planner to create a detailed floor plan rendered in 3D, place furniture, and more. (Of course, as with a lot of apps, you have to pay to unlock certain features, like additional materials and a wider range of branded furniture.) Heads up, though: If you’d like design guidance, you’ll want to look elsewhere — consider this app more a vehicle to bring your vision to life.

Cost: Between $5 and $10 per month, depending on your plan choice (which vary by number of renderings and ability to load predesigned plans)

This is a more comprehensive computer-aided design (CAD) program than Room Planner that will allow you to transform your 2D plans into a more visually appealing 3D model. Most people who use software like Homestyler are coming from somewhat of an interior design background already. The most consumer-friendly part of this program, however, is that once you design the structure of your space, you can place existing and shoppable furniture in it instead of relying on crafting said furniture from nothing but dimensions.

Cost: From $159 to $499, depending on your plan choice (which vary by number of room renderings and experience level of designer)

With Modsy, you start off by taking a style quiz and choosing your favorite decor themes from photos, explanations, and examples. You also provide your budget up front, as well as a list of items that you already own. A few days later, you receive two rendered options of your space, both with shoppable items, from the program’s designers. Of course, this is not the extended conversation you would get from a face-to-face (or Zoom-camera-to-Zoom-camera) interior designer consultation, but if you have no idea where to even start and a budget that falls in this range, this is a great alternative. 

Cost: From $99 to $179, depending on your plan choice (with a cheaper plan that includes product recommendations and a more expensive one that also includes custom renderings and floor plans)

You also kick things off with Havenly by taking a style quiz about your space and providing your budget. With the $79 “mini” package, you receive some product recommendations; with the $129 “full package,” you get help designing an entire room with 3D renderings. Plus, Havenly gives you the option of a back-and-forth conversation via online messaging, text, and phone calls with the designer after product options have been sent to you. Response time isn’t always the speediest, but you can’t really beat the price for the individual attention.

Cost: Packages range from $295 to $1,695, depending on your plan choice (which vary by number of rooms, as well as your expected number of plan choices and duration of each check-in with your designer)

Though many furnishing companies offer similar services (Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and more), a design consultation from One Kings Lane is a great option because of all of the different brands and styles of pieces they carry — including vintage! — so you aren’t stuck with a single “look.” Of course, this means they only suggest products that they stock, but that list is extensive. And they also offer color consultations with Farrow & Ball, as well as art consultations (for a separate cost).

Professional Interior Designer

Cost: Varies based on location, experience level, and the size of your job

Hiring an interior designer is certainly not the most economical option on this list. That said, designers have access to deals on products and services that the regular consumer does not have, so using a designer doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to have to fork up way more than you would if you put together a room on your own. If you go this route, remember to do your research to make sure that your designer is well-matched with your personal style and comfortable working within the confines of your budget, no matter how small or large. 

If you would like to go this more personal route but at less of a premium price, it’s worth looking into interior design students by reaching out to programs at technical design schools in your area. Professors will often pass along inquiries to their students so that they have the opportunity to grow their experience and portfolios.

We’re obviously biased, but we think this group is one of the loveliest places on the Internet for those seeking or offering interior design advice! Join now and then ask any question that arises during your design process, from the big (“What color couch would look best?”) to the small (“Which wall should I put this console table on?”), and you’ll get supportive, thoughtful recommendations from the Facebook community.